The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Sonora Taylor
Emmaline made her way into the forest. A trail of blood followed her footsteps. She’d long given up on trying to stop the bleeding. What was more important was getting the arm to the tree before it could fester.
Emmaline found the arm in a bar, a popular place to find wayward men looking for a way home with her. She saw their limbs and the branches of their fingers, and saw a way to give back to the forest. The arms of men removed the trees’ branches. It only seemed fair to replant the trees with skin and bone.
Emmaline made it to her favorite tree: a squat, fat, blackened tree that she used to lean against when reading as a girl. She shared her secrets with the tree, and when the wind blew through the leaves, she knew the tree was answering her. It was the tree who first whispered, Bring me skin. Emmaline first hung animal skins on the branches, as she’d read that people once did. It wasn’t enough. The tree needed limbs.
The wooden branches reached into the sky, and the limbs of flesh hung limp against the bark. The graft would be slow to take, but Emmaline trusted that soon, the tree would recognize the skin as gifts. She brought the arm to a bare patch on the side of the tree. She nailed the limb to the tree, then smeared its blood against the wood in the hopes that the tree would understand.
Emmaline was bitten by the tree. She snapped back her hand and looked at her palm. A fresh splinter lay deep in her skin. It hurt when Emmaline pressed it, but like the tree would grow used to the skin, Emmaline knew she’d grow used to the wood. She saw it as a gift from the tree – a recognition of their oneness, and how they would trade wood for flesh, flora for fauna.
Emmaline left the splinter in her hand as she left the woods. She promised the tree that she would return soon. She smiled as a breeze blew through the leaves and parted her hair.
Fiction © Copyright Sonora Taylor
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Sonora Taylor:
When seeking gifts from others, the greatest gift is often a connection. A lonely fourth grader finds an unlikely friendship with a murder of crows. A college student tries, against all odds, to meet her favorite author. A commuter sees a stranger every day on her way to work. And a man who lives alone in the woods seeks a connection with anyone, so long as they’re another body to hold.
The greatest gifts, however, don’t always mean the greatest rewards. The fourth grader learns that a crow’s idea of loyalty may challenge her own. The college student learns that in a battle between herself and fate, neither may be the victor. The commuter never learns her new friend’s name, which may be a gift in itself. The man in the woods sees any connection as a reward — though not necessarily for those he seeks.
Connections with others keep us afloat, in varying degrees and at varying costs. As the man in the woods so aptly says, “We all want closeness and companionship. Some of us just gain that by burying people in the floorboards.”
Issue #40 of The Sirens Call – As Summer Leaves, Autumn Falls
Stories of disaster influenced by horrific intent.
Whether it be Mother Nature’s wrath or a devilish ghoul, a sprite most wicked or a stumbling fool, tell us a tale of disaster that happens as summer ends and autumn begins.
We are looking for stories, flash fiction and poetry of horrific happenings that take place in the summer months that lead into fall. As long as the piece is primarily horror/dark fiction, we’d love to see it!
Your piece can be creepy, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, bizarre, have a dark-humor edge to it, or simply be flat out scary as hell!
REPRINTS ARE WELCOME
Submission Deadline: August 10, 2018
Circulation: Approximately 35,000
Full page/single book cover ads for individual authors are available at $10 per ad. Please contact Nina@SirensCallPublications.com for advertising information.
All short story, flash, and poem submissions MUST be submitted to: Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com for consideration.
Visit our web site for more details: SirensCallPub.com